Speech for the New Students

This is an extract from the speech Johanne Vaagland, president of the Student Parliament, gave to the new students at the University opening 11 august 2015.



Dear all new students. Welcome to Universitetet i Bergen and to the best University City in Norway!


As a new student in Bergen, you have many great and exciting year ahead of you. You will walk around on "Høyden", go for a swim at "Verftet", go to concerts at "Hulen" and stuggle up the steps of "Stoltzen". In other words: you have chosen the right city.  


In addition, all of you here today have chosen to get a higher education, and that is a clever choice. Not just for your own sake, but also for the University, and for Bergen as a University City. We need to fill the lecture halls with willing students, and we need to fill Bergen with an active student community. And that is something you will all contribute towards.


As a student at the University, there will be made demands of you. You will be tested on whether you have read all your curriculum, and you will be asked to participate in discussions with your co-students. But it's important to be aware of the fact that you as students also have the right to make demands from the University. I encourage you all to make up an opinion as to what is good and works well, and what could have been better. I encourage you to get involved in the student council for your program, or in the Student Parliament, where you'll be able to actively work towards improving yours and others' student experience. Be on the lookout for new knowledge. Knock on your proffesor's door, and use the opportunity to have a coffe at Chaos with Frank Aarebrot. 


Even though we are welcoming you to the University of Bergen today, we will at some point during your time here ask you to leave the city - in fact, we will ask you to leave the country. While you’re at this University, you will be given a unique opportunity to spend a semester abroad as a foreign exchange student. Hundreds of Norwegian students leave every semester to go and study in places like France, Uganda or India. The choices are many, and this is an opportunity I strongly encourage all of you to embrace. When you go abroad, you get to spend several months in a new and unfamiliar country. You get to live there, study there, and get to know a new culture. You’ll get to know new people, and improve your language skills. These are personal experiences you will keep with you for the rest of your life. But it is not only you that will benefit from them:  when you come back to the University of Bergen after a semester abroad, you bring a whole new set of experiences and perspectives into the learning situation, which will improve the quality of education, not just for you, but also for your fellow students.


At the same time as many norwegian students leave for exchange every semester, the university also receives hundreds of students from countries all over the world. Some of you are probably going to have classes in english, and if you do, there’s likely to be an exchange student there. I urge you to contact them and get to know them, the international students are the easiest to get to know, and they are always welcoming and interested in getting to know norwegian students.




And to all of the exchange students present today, who have come to spend a semester here in Bergen: welcome! I hope and trust that this will be an enriching experience both for you and for those you’ll get to know during your stay.



At the University of Bergen you will be one of approximately 15 000 students, in a city with a 30 000-strong student population. Many of you are arriving in Bergen directly from High School, many of you may be in Bergen for the very first time. Hopefully most of you have found a place to live, something which can be a challenge these days. The past few weeks we have seen many news stories about the "unusually high amount" of vacant rental apartments here in Bergen and in other student-dense cities around Norway. What you will not normally read about in the news, however, is how expensive the rent is. When more than half the rooms have a monthly rent that's higher than the monthly student benefit, it's obvious that finding a place to live is not easy for the average student. Year after year students in Norway will have to work part-time jobs on the side of their studies in order to afford the cost of living. The "full-time student" is a long way away, but it doesn't have to be that way. So, dear prime minister Erna Solberg, I repeat: we need more student accomodation, and higher student benefits so that students can spend their time and efforts being exactly that: students. 


Fortunately, there is plenty to do once the hectic start of the semester is over. Student life consists of so much more than showing up for early morning lectures, burying oneself in books and long days in the study halls. As a student in Bergen you'll get the opportunity to partake in a student community packed to the brim with different activities: you can join pretty much anything. As part of a student organisation you'll have a unique opportunity to get to know students outside your every day environment - may it be through playin volleyball, working in the sudent radio or organize political and cultural debates. If you want to get the full benefit of being a student, I reccommend joining an organisation straight away, there are more than a hundred different organisations waiting for new members. 


Dear all new students - thank you for choosing The University of Bergen. I hope you will fall just as much in love with the city as I have.  

The best of luck with your studies. We sincerely hope you will stay here for many good years to come.